Lt. Governor Announces ACMP Initiative Hearings

Coastal Management Initiative Hearing Schedule Announced
Lt. Governor Treadwell to hold hearings in ten communities

June 4, 2012, Anchorage, AK – Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell announced today his schedule for ten hearings around the state on a ballot proposal to establish a new Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP).

The hearings will be the first required under a new law passed by the Alaska Legislature in 2010. Alaska Statute 15.45.195 requires the lieutenant governor to hold at least eight hearings up to 30 days before the election in which an initiative is to appear on the ballot, with at least two hearings in each of Alaska’s four judicial districts. The ACMP initiative will appear on the August 28th primary ballot.

“I am taking this law seriously and plan to attend each one of these hearings personally,” said Treadwell. “We are working to make sure that some of these hearings can take telephone testimony, as the legislature does, so they will be accessible to all. Alaskans will have their opportunity to debate the issue.”

By law each hearing must include the written or oral testimony of one supporter and one opponent of the initiative.

The hearing schedule is as follows:

Monday, July 2
Kenai/Soldotna
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Chambers
144 North Binkley Street, Soldotna
4pm-7pm

Tuesday, July 3
Barrow
Inupiat Heritage Center
5421 North Star Street
4pm-7pm

Monday, July 9
Anchorage (Statewide Teleconference)
Anchorage Legislative Information Office
714 West 4th Avenue, Suite 220
9am-12pm
Monday, July 9
Wasilla
Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center
1001 South Mack Drive
5pm-8pm

Tuesday, July 10
Kotzebue
Kotzebue Alaska National Guard Armory
605 3rd Avenue
11am-2pm

Wednesday, July 11
Fairbanks
Fairbanks North Star Borough Council Chambers
809 Pioneer Road
4pm-7pm

Thursday, July 12
Kodiak
Kodiak High School Commons
917 Rezanof East
4pm-7pm

Monday, July 23
Bethel
Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center
420 Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway
4pm-7pm

Wednesday, July 25
Ketchikan
White Cliff Building Assembly Chambers
1900 First Avenue, Suite 144
4pm-7pm

Thursday, July 26
Juneau
The Assembly Chambers
155 South Seward Street
4pm-7pm

The ACMP program that expired July 1, 2011 was administered by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. The ballot initiative, which can be found at http://ltgov.state.ak.us/pdfs/elections/initiatives/2011/11ACMP.pdf, seeks to recreate the program to be managed by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.

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SB 130 Alaska Native Language Preservation & Advisory Council Passes the Senate Floor

Senate Passes Bill to Protect Alaska Native Languages

Bill establishes advisory council to preserve and restore Alaska’s indigenous languages

 The Alaska State Senate passed a bill this morning aimed at protecting and restoring Alaska Native Languages, a bill I sponsored.   Senate Bill 130 will establish the Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council to assess the state of Alaska Native Languages, reevaluate the programs within the state, and make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature to establish new programs or reorganize the current programs.

Alaska Native Languages are threatened by extinction.  Indigenous languages are the most critical components in terms or preservation of cultural ideas and traditions and serve as the backbone of all cultural elements.  The language is like the most important ingredient in a recipe and without it, there is no real substance.  Senate Bill 130 ensures that these important Alaska Native customs continue on.

According to the University of Alaska’s Language Center’s Population and Speaker Statistics published in 2007, only 22 percent Alaska Natives statewide can speak their native language.  More specifically, only 29 percent of the Eskimo Aleut population, less than 2 percent of the Tsimshian and Haida, and less than 5 percent of the Athabascan and Tlingit communities combined are fluent speakers.  The Eyak language recently lost its last native fluent speaker.

Of the state’s 20 Alaska Native languages, only two (Siberian Yupik in two villages on St. Lawrence Island, and Central Yup’ik in seventeen villages in southwestern Alaska) are spoken by children as the first language of the home.

My hope is the advisory council will give effective representation for Alaska Native languages at the state level, which would be a monumental event for many elders who still remember being scolded in school for speaking their first language.  This legislation is the most significant piece of legislation affecting Alaska Native languages since 1972 when laws were passed requiring mandatory bilingual education in state-operated schools where children speak Alaska Native languages.

The council would be comprised of endangered language experts from across the state appointed by the governor, plus two non-voting legislators from the bush caucus.

Senate Bill 130 now heads to the House for further consideration.

Energy Voucher Bill Introduced

Recently, I joined in the effort by the bipartisan group of state senators from across Alaska and introduced legislation to utilize a small portion of the state’s $3.7 billion surplus to provide Alaskans with relief from high energy costs.

Senate Bill 203 provides Alaskans with immediate energy relief through fuel vouchers, and develops a program to help residents deal with high heating costs during the transition to more affordable energy supplies.

The bill’s sponsors include Senators Joe Thomas and Joe Paskvan of Fairbanks, Senator Lyman Hoffman (Bethel), Senator Tom Wagoner (Kenai), Senator Johnny Ellis (Anchorage) and myself.

SB 203 directs the Alaska Department of Revenue to send a voucher to every adult Permanent Fund Dividend recipient in the fall of 2012, which can be redeemed at the fuel distributor of their choice for either 250 gallons of heating oil, an equivalent amount of natural gas, or 1,500 KWH of electricity.

The bill then calls for the state to evaluate several options for on-going energy relief and recommend a program that can be put into effect for 2013 and beyond.  The analysis and recommendation are due back to the legislature by October 1, 2012.  The program designed by the state must provide energy relief to Alaskans based on the local cost of home heating, taking into consideration the price of fuel and average temperature of the community.

Senator Joe Thomas, the prime sponsor of SB 203, explained, “High energy prices fill the state’s treasury, but hit Alaska’s working families hard. We intend to use a portion of the State of Alaska’s $3.7 billion surplus – about 9 cents of every surplus dollar – to deliver real energy relief to Alaskans this year.”

Senator Lyman Hoffman added, “Our intention is to craft a program that helps all Alaskans and treats equitably those hit hardest by the high cost of energy.  This year’s record cold winter and rising fuel prices have created a hardship for many Alaskans.  This proposal will provide relief this year, and develop a program to help families in the future.”

Senate Bill 203 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee where it is scheduled to have its first hearing on Thursday, February 23.

Alaska Coastal Management Program Initiative Update

            As I’ve stated before, I’m fully supportive of the Statewide Ballot Initiative to bring back the Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP).  According to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, the citizen initiative to establish an ACMP appears to have gathered more than the minimum number of qualified signatures required for a determination of proper filing, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell announced earlier this month. The Division of Elections has determined that at least 25,875 qualified subscribers, from at least 30 out of 40 legislative districts, signed the initiative petition.

For legal reasons, all signatures that were submitted by petition sponsors on January 17, 2012 are still being reviewed by the Division of Elections.  The lieutenant governor has 60 days from the date the sponsors filed their petition to make a final determination of proper or improper filing.  In addition, all signatures on a petition for a ballot measure must be examined for purposes of voter registration list maintenance.  To my knowledge, the state election officials recently announced that sufficient signatures were qualified to put this initiative on this year’s ballot.

Upon a determination of proper filing, the initiative may appear on the next statewide general, special, or primary election that is held 120 days after a legislative session has convened and adjourned and a period of 120 days has expired since the adjournment of the legislative session.

According to the Juneau Empire, the House Majority Leader, Representative Alan Austerman recently introduced legislation, HB 285 to re-establish the coastal management plan which is substantially similar to the initiative.  However, it is still too early to predict the outcome of this particular piece of legislation.

Northern Waters Task Force releases Final Report

The NWTF Final Report is now complete and available. If you would like to view it, the website is www.anwtf.com.

I am privileged to be a part of the Northern Waters Task Force and the important work that has been done to address issues in our northern coastal waters. To date, this Final Report is most detailed statement of Alaska’s Arctic Policy. I am grateful to the Chairman Representative Reggie Joule and his staff for all their hard work. I’d also like to coommend all the Task Force members and to those who participated in the public hearings across the state.

The 3 priority recommendations highlighted in the report are:

1. Providing Alaskans with opportunities to be involved in Arctic policy. This is an ongoing state, federal, and local process.

2. Creating an Alaskan Arctic Commission, which will enable Alaska to be better prepared for changes and development plans and to create a state strategy for the Arctic. It is expected that legislation establishing such a commission will be introduced soon.

3. Urging the United States Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Ratification is critical for several reasons, primarily for allowing for the U.S. to claim sovereignty of the Arctic seafloor more than 200 miles north off Alaska’s coast and for our state to claim the economic benefits from this ownership.

Senate Bill 130 Alaska Native Language Preservation & Advisory Council

photo taken at the beginning of the 2nd session of the 27th State Legislature

Senate Bill 130 will be having it’s 2nd hearing tomorrow morning, February 2nd, in the Senate State Affairs Committtee. I expect the bill to pass out of this committee. I sincerely appreciated those who are ardent in preserving and restoring native languages in their testimonies and all the letters of support and resoulutions that we received in support of this important piece of legislation.

Here are a couple of links to some articles that have been published regarding this particular committee hearing:

Senator Olson wants council on Alaska Native languages

Senate State Affairs committee hears testimony on Native Languages bill

Legislative Update – Jan. 19, 2012

The 27th Legislative Session Convenes

My staff and I are looking forward to the 2nd session of the 27th Legislature here in Juneau. My staff will remain the same as last year. I look forward to the work we will be accomplishing during these 90 days.

From left to right:
Sydney Seay, Loren Peterson, Senator Donald Olson, David Scott, and Denise Liccioli.

Fuel Delivery Makes It to Nome

I’m grateful I was able to be in Nome for the fuel delivery. The tanker, Renda, was able to successfully make the 5,000 mile journey overcoming some obstacles including high seas and thick ice. I am very relieved that our residents of Nome will be able to have fuel to make it through the winter ahead. This saves the community from bearing the expense of air transportation for emergency fuel.

Sitnasuak CEO Dave Hoffman, Sen. Donny Olson, Nome Legislative Aide, Laura Lawrence and Sitnasuak Board Chair Jason Evans 1/15/12.
Photo by Bonnie Piscoya Stettenbenz

I’d like to commend the Sitnasuak Native Corporation for their leadership to get the fuel delivered. Sitnasuak owns the local fuel company, Bonanza Fuel, and has been working closely with Vitus Marine, the supplier that arranged for the delivery of the 1.3 million gallons of fuel. Without the Renda’s delivery, it is estimated Nome would run out of fuel by March or April, long before the next barge delivery is possible.

I, along with other state, federal, local, and tribal representatives have been monitoring the delivery and corresponding with the Coast Guard. We appreciate the Coast Guard working with the city, the state, and industry to address this issue. I am grateful for their effort and support the USCGC S/V Healy’s continued presence until the fuel is delivered and the delivery vessels leave Alaskan waters.

Once again, I offer my sincere thanks to the Coast Guard for its efforts. I believe this incident highlights the US and global development of Arctic waters.

Alaska Coastal Management Program

I have been fully supportive of the Statewide Ballot Initiative to bring back the Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP). I am very thankful to all of those Alaskans that added their signature to petition booklets endorsing the restoration of the ACMP. The Alaska Sea Party announced that it reached the requirement of 26,000 signatures by the start of this year’s legislative session. It was announced that more than 33,500 voters signed this important petition and I’d like to thank those rural Alaskans for contributing about 1/3 or approximately 12,000 signatures to put this initiative on this year’s ballot. I understand this particular petition was the fastest initiative signature gathering effort in Alaska’s history which shows this program is very much needed. The ACMP allows for local input in developing our coastal resources and gives our state primacy over federal developments in our coast. I commend each voter for signing their names and showing our government that the people’s voice will not be ignored. I will be closely monitoring the movement of this ballot initiative and will be strongly supportive of any bills that will be introduced calling for the restoration of the ACMP. The Division of Elections will take 60 days to review every signature against the voter registration records.

Permanent Fund Dividend

It is that time of year again to apply for the Permanent Fund Dividend. The application deadline is March 31, 2012. The PFD’s are very helpful in offsetting the high cost of living in rural areas. You may file online at http://www.pfd.state.ak.us/. If you have any questions or need to appeal to the department, the toll free number for the Permanent Dividend Division is 1-800-733-8813.

Native Artwork Showcased in the Capitol

Alaska Native Artwork made by Nome Elementary students displayed
in the Alaska State Capitol.

I was delighted to see Alaska Native artwork that is being placed in the State Capitol stairwell this session. The ‘Art in the Capitol’ is an initiative by the Legislative Information Office. The artists of the fine sealskin hearts and beadwork artwork are from the Nome Elementary School listed as follows:

Brema Scholten 1st Grade Raina McRae 2nd Grade Colin McFarland 2nd
Haily Goodwin 3rd Grade Kelly Lyon 4th Grade Paige Shield 6th Grade

I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year and I look forward to seeing my constituents this session and wish everyone safe travels this winter.

Take care,
[signed] Donald Olson

Senator Donald Olson

Web Site: http://olson.aksenate.org/
Email: Senator_Donny_Olson@legis.state.ak.us